From the Editor

The Future of Travel in a Changing World

Never before has travel felt like such a privilege—and such a complicated proposition. Should we be visiting new places during a pandemic? Should we fly during a climate emergency? Or should we all just stay home? At AFAR, we emphatically believe that travel can contribute to the greater good in myriad ways. With the right approach we can continue to feed our wanderlust by traveling sustainably. Travel as a force for good has been part of AFAR’s DNA since our inception, and the concept is particularly important as we close out 2021. Read on for ways to make your travel count each time you step out your front door. — Tim Chester, deputy editor

The World on a Plate

Photo by Michael George

American food cooked by new Americans

Food can cross boundaries and cultures. It can bridge gaps in understanding, forge bonds, spark friendships. It’s magic. Even if it’s just your standard morning glory muffin. 

That’s what changed everything for Kerry Brodie—a muffin. In 2015, she was living in Washington, D.C., working as a press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign and volunteering at a homeless shelter. She would often talk to the residents about food, chatting about things they ate growing up and that still resonated with them. 

She remembers one conversation about the muffins the shelter would hand out. “I never really knew what a morning glory muffin was,” she recalls with a laugh. “We’d have these conversations about like, what do we think is in this muffin? And what do we think is the optimal food to put in a muffin form, which was just such a fun way to connect with someone.” Though jokey, the conversations stuck with Brodie. Cooking was in her blood: One of her grandmothers had published a cookbook, the other had run a catering business. While she had no formal training, she’d loved being in the kitchen with them and her mother.

Right around the same time, another issue was tugging at her attention. The Syrian refugee crisis was all over the news, and as a child of immigrants, Brodie was pained as more and more refugees were turned away from the U.S. Someone had to help. Why not her? 

For the full story by Billie Cohen, read “Emma’s Torch Is Helping Refugees Succeed in the Food World.”

Travel in a Climate Crisis

Photograph by Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash

No place is immune to extreme weather—but travelers can be part of the solution

Wildfires. Hurricanes. Droughts. As climate disasters increase in intensity everywhere on the planet, how do we navigate as caring, conscientious travelers? Obviously, showing up in the days after a disaster and expecting to be waited on would be worse than insensitive, almost imperialistic, but what about in the months and years afterward? How can you avoid being a burden as a tourist and have a positive impact as a traveler in the aftermath of disasters? “Generally it’s really positive to go, because most places that need to get back on their feet depend on the part of their economy that draws tourists in,” says Saket Soni, executive director of Resilience Force, an organization that supports essential workers in disaster response and recovery. Still, how do you show up with sensitivity? Here are a few things to consider. 

For the full story by Sally Kohn, read “5 Ways to Be a More Conscientious Traveler During Climate Change.”

Make Your Visit Count

Photograph by Elliott Verdier

Your dollars can have a real impact

As international travel slowly resumes, many of the world’s perennially popular destinations have seen a gradual return of visitors, while other places remain off the traveler’s radar—yet the latter spots are where vaccinated tourists can have a great positive impact. Make your dollars count: Here are three trips, all the way from China to Canada, where your travel dollar will go further to help a destination get back on its feet. 

For the full story by Jennifer Flowers, read “Make Your Dollars Count When You Travel.” 

Trips With a Purpose

Courtesy of Orbis Expeditions/Venetia Norrington Photography

Voluntourism that feels like a two-way street? Tell us more.

Imagine sharing your skill set with locals while on vacation—and learning from them at the same time. Travel experiences that empower rather than simply finance can uplift, upskill, and provide a voice. So we sought out tour operators and hotels who do just that.

Traditional voluntourism often revolves around a handout mentality that can do more harm than good by creating dependency and taking away jobs. However, Orbis Expeditions’ Women’s Partnership Challenge trip to Malawi carefully matches visitor skills with female entrepreneurs to foster exchange and connection that leaves a lasting impression on both. 

So high up into the Atlas Mountains in Morocco that the last few hundred yards of the journey there involve hiking with mules, Kasbah du Toubkal has long stood as a beacon of responsible community tourism. No expats are running the show behind the scenes, and all employees are local. The result is a genuine slice of Berber hospitality, from the date dipping and rosewater ceremonies on arrival to a low level of hierarchy among staff. 

That’s just for starters.

For the full story by Holly Tuppen, read “6 Trips That Help You Give Back.”